Doctor, HSE and hospital each pay third of girl's €4.75m award
A JUDGE has found the HSE, the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) and a doctor were equally "grossly inept" in their treatment of a baby girl who suffered severe brain damage due to hydrocephalus.
Based on that and other findings, the High Court's Mr Justice Sean Ryan ruled each must pay one-third of a €4.75m damages award made previously to the child.
There was nothing to distinguish the degrees of blameworthiness of the NMH, the public health nurses involved and Dr Dermot Stones, of Albany Court, Shanganagh Road, Ballybrack, Co Dublin, in regard to the tragedy that befell baby Jade Keane, the judge said.
Jade, now aged 10, was born at the NMH, Holles Street, Dublin, on March 21, 2001, and suffered brain damage which has left her blind, wheelchair bound and requiring care for the rest of her life. Jade sued though her mother Gillian Keane, of Wyatville Park, Loughlinstown, Dublin, and last February she secured €4.75m in settlement of her proceedings.
That settlement was approved by the High Court and the issue of liability for that sum was deferred.
In his judgment yesterday, Mr Justice Ryan apportioned blame for the injuries equally to the three defendants.
He found each of the defendants, their servants or agents were "grossly inept in their treatment of this baby".
"Collectively, their negligent incompetence extended from when the child was two days old until late May 2001 when it was too late to avert disaster," he said.
The judge said each defendant had admitted negligence in respect of failure at some point to take appropriate action in response to the baby's head circumference.
However, they had not admitted liability.
It was argued the baby's condition resulted from an event that occurred in utero and it was also submitted the admitted failures did not cause the damage or alternatively the bulk of the damage.
While the NMH's role in Jade's care was brief, its fault was "grave", the judge said.
He also found Dr Stones was "seriously at fault" in his dealing with this baby and fell substantially below a proper standard.
The judge also found, in relation to the public health nurses who were servants or agents of the HSE, this was "a case of repeated negligence". There was collective failure "of a most serious kind" for which the HSE bore vicarious liability.
The nurses should have noticed Jade's symptoms long before they did and acted on foot of them by ensuring she received the necessary attention as a matter of urgency.